Employment tribunal trends and disclosure of parties’ identities

October 16, 2008

A report recently published by Acas, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service, offers a fascinating insight into trends in the employment tribunal.

Tribunal trends

Acas has recently published its annual report and accounts for the year ending 31 March 2008. The report makes interesting reading and provides a breakdown of cases received by Acas for conciliation from employment tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales.

The report, which contains some startling statistics, states that for 2007-08 the number of claims received by tribunals increased by a massive 44 per cent, from 105,177 claims in 2006-07 to 151,249 in 2007-08. These figures are of particular interest when compared with those for 2006-07, when the number of tribunal claims actually fell by 4 per cent from the previous year.

Why the increase?

For the year 2007-08, equal pay overtook unfair dismissal to become the largest type of claim, with 53,952 instances where equal pay was the main ground of complaint. This figure equates to in excess of 35 per cent of all claims received by tribunals in comparison with 33,352 claims where unfair dismissal was the main ground of complaint (about 22 per cent). This represents a substantial increase from the 25,264 claims where equal pay was the main claim in 2006-07.

What about discrimination claims?

The number of claims citing age discrimination increased from 739 in 2006-07 to 2,652 in 2007-08 while the number of claims where sex and race discrimination formed the main ground of complaint decreased for the same period. Tribunals experienced a slight increase in the number of disability discrimination claims received.

Publication of parties’ identities in tribunal proceedings

On a linked, but slightly different, issue relating to employment tribunals, institutions will also be interested to read that the deputy information commissioner has ruled that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) must release and make public the names and addresses of respondents in employment tribunal proceedings under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, having decided that there is a strong public interest in its disclosure.

Regulations that came into force in October 2004 removed the public register of employment tribunal applications that had existed before this date. This register had recorded the names and addresses of both parties to tribunal litigation. Currently, interested parties are able to identify parties to tribunal cases only through daily lists used in employment tribunals.

BERR has not yet issued a formal response, so it is not clear how it proposes to address the ruling. It has four weeks in which to appeal, should it wish to do so. Assuming there is no appeal, this decision could well lead to the reinstatement of the public register of employment tribunal claims, or perhaps an abridged version omitting claimants’ details (the ruling does not address whether claimant details should also be made public).

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